Jumuah lecture on Friday 7 February 2020 (12 Jamadil Thani 1441)
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Almighty Allah (SWT) summarised the story of Prophets (a.s) in a very profound manner in verse 25 of Surah Hadid (chapter 57 of the Holy Quran). This verse explains various crucial points as follows:
- What was the purpose of Prophets (a.s) ie. why did they come?
- What were their tools?
- What was the reaction of the people?
لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَنْزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَأَنْزَلْنَا الْحَدِيدَ فِيهِ بَأْسٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَنْصُرُهُ وَرُسُلَهُ بِالْغَيْبِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ
“We sent aforetime our messengers with Clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that men may stand forth in justice; and We sent down Iron, in which is (material for) mighty war, as well as many benefits for mankind, that Allah may test who it is that will help, Unseen, Him and His messengers: For Allah is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might (and able to enforce His Will).”
This verse explains the prime purpose for the divine appointment of Prophets (a.s) on this earth is so that people can uphold justice.
TOOLS WHICH PROPHETS (A.S) USED TO ACHIEVE JUSTICE
This verse also explains that Prophets (a.s) were sent to this earth with three very important tools by Almighty Allah (SWT), to achieve their purpose. They are “Clear Signs”, “divine Book” and the “Balance between Right and Wrong”.
“Clear Signs” refer to rational arguments. The message of divinely appointed Prophets (a.s) and apostles is based upon clear signs which any common sense can understand and accept. Evidence of the authenticity and truth of the message of Prophets (a.s) is therefore beyond dispute.
Along with the clear, rational, intellectual evidence is the Book of divine guidance. In other words, our intellectual capacity may often not reach to the clarity of the situation at hand. Hence the need for the additional tool of the divine book, to provide divine guidance along with the “Clear Signs”.
Together with these two, the third tool is the “Balance”, which can measure the distinction between right and wrong. Now, these tools may apply all together on a divine book, like the Holy Quran, because it consists of rational arguments and clear signs, and at the same time, the Quran is indeed also divine guidance. And the Quran is also the criterion for truth and falsehood.
That being said, this particular verse makes it distinguished in its 3 aspects. Prophets (a.s) came with these 3 tools for the purpose of establishing and upholding justice in society.
PROPHETIC MISSION DESCRIBED DIFFERENTLY IN VARIOUS QURANIC VERSES
What is really interesting is that when you look at other verses of the Holy Quran which discuss the mission of Prophets (a.s) and why they came, we identify different reasons being presented in these various verses. For example, in verse 2 of Surah Jumuah (chapter 62 of the Holy Quran), Almighty Allah (SWT) says:
هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِنْ كَانُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ
“He it is Who raised among the inhabitants of Mecca an Messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His communications and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom, although they were before certainly in clear error.”
We all know the well-known Hadith from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) in this regard, where he says that he was sent to this earth to perfect the highest levels of ethics and morality. So, this verse explains that the purpose of Prophets (a.s) was to teach and provide wisdom to the people and to cleanse the souls through instilling moral values in society.
Then, in contrast, we have the below excerpt from verse 157 of Surah A’raaf (chapter 7 of the Holy Quran), where Almighty Allah (SWT) says:
وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ
“and removes from them their burden and the shackles which were upon them…”
This verse explains that Prophets (a.s) also came to remove the shackles which were on their shoulders. They came to liberate us from the shackles of ignorance of tribalism and the chains of slavery, injustice and dictatorship. This purpose talks to the socio-political agenda of Prophethood.
Then, in verse 36 of Surah Nahl (chapter 16 of the Holy Quran), we read that a divine Prophet (a.s) has been appointed for every nation for the purpose of worshipping Almighty Allah (SWT) and they shun the evil forces which opposes the divine. This verse therefore establishes justice in society.
وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ ۖ
“And certainly We raised in every nation a messenger saying: Serve Allah and shun the Shaitan.”
From these verses, we conclude that the mission of the divinely appointed Prophets (a.s) was moral and ethical, spiritual (purification of the soul), academic/cultural education and enlightenment, to liberate them from the shackles of darkness and indeed all culminating in the establishment of justice.
PROPHETIC MISSION HAD A KEEN OBJECTIVE TO LAY THE PLATFORM FOR THE PEOPLE TO ACHIEVE JUSTICE
Yes, without doubt, divine Prophets (a.s) came to guide us towards the hereafter, but these verses we discussed are not necessarily referring the hereafter. Instead, they are referring to this world. The job of Prophets (a.s) was twofold, to fix our life after death (through Tauheed), and also to fix this world through establishing justice!
A very interesting point in this verse, which is the headline of today’s discussion, is what is meant by “liya qoomannaas bilqist”. Numerous scholars and commentators of the Holy Quran have pondered about this quite deeply. They say that this verse does not say that Prophets (a.s) came to this world to establish justice. Instead, they say, that they came to this world so that people uphold justice. There is an important, subtle distinction here.
So, the Prophets (a.s) did not forcefully impose justice amongst the people. Rather, they created a conducive environment where people will uphold justice. This means that the main protagonist in establishing justice is the people, and not the Prophets (a.s).
All other aspects of the mission of Prophets (a.s), such as morality, education and liberation, all come to the situation where people are themselves actors to uphold and establish justice. Therefore, the Prophets (a.s) did not come to even impose justice on the people. They came to bring them to the point where the people can establish and uphold justice.
THERE ARE TIMES WHEN COMPASSIONATE LANGUAGE DOES NOT WORK
Now, referring back to the introductory verse cited, where the Quran explains the 3 tools in verse 25 of Surah Hadid – Clear Signs, the Book and Balance – it slips in one more “wa anzal nal hadeed fi ba’sin shadeed” ie. We also sent down the iron, which has mighty strength and power.
What we have explained is that the message of Prophets (a.s), in principle, is to teach, cleanse the souls, and call people towards the establishment of justice in society and to shun evil. Now, this reference to iron explains that compassionate speech does not always seem to work. Sometimes, there is no option but to use iron, which is symbolic of taking a very firm stance against evil (taghoot).
Sometimes, it is not possible to establish justice without using a firm hand. This may not be our first option, nor is it the option we like, but there are times which present itself as having no alternative but to take a firm stance. Therefore, the next part of this verse explains that in taking this firm stance, there are benefits for the people which we may not know.
The final part of this verse explains that Almighty Allah (SWT) is trying to determine who is ready to support the mission of the divine Prophets (a.s) and who will leave, because that is the way to distinguish who is right and who is wrong, who is clean and who is not…
Almighty Allah (SWT) refers to the same issue in the following excerpt from verse 179 of Surah aal-Imraan (chapter 3 of the Holy Quran):
مَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيَذَرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَىٰ مَا أَنْتُمْ عَلَيْهِ حَتَّىٰ يَمِيزَ الْخَبِيثَ مِنَ الطَّيِّبِ ۗ
“On no account will Allah leave the believers in the condition which you are in until He separates the evil from the good.”
With this background, we will take the discussion further in the second khutbah!
ISLAMIC REVOLUTION IS OUR SOURCE OF PRIDE IN A TURBULENT WORLD
In the first khutbah, we presented the summarised mission of Prophets (a.s), as explained in the Holy Quran. We discussed what was their purpose and what tools they used to achieve this.
In these days, we are celebrating and remembering the revival and extension of the Prophetic movement. In light of the verses of the Holy Quran presented in the first khutbah, we can very clearly understand the great phenomenon of our time by the name of the Islamic Revolution, led by our late Imam Khomeini (r.a). When we reflect on this, it is the manifestation of the same movement of Prophets (a.s).
When we look at the whole approach of Imam Khomeini (r.a) and this revolution, we see that it is focussed on verse 157 of Surah A’raaf (chapter 7 of the Holy Quran) discussed earlier, namely to remove those chains of slavery! In fact, in religion before this great explosion of light in our times – be it the approach of Sunni or Shia – the purpose of Prophets (a.s) was understood from only 2 angles, akhlaq and akhirah (hereafter).
What religion was presented as being able to help with is good akhlaq, spiritual cleansing to develop noble moral character. The purpose of religion and Prophethood was confined to being good to thy neighbour and your family, to prepare for the hereafter in trying to attain Paradise and avoid Hell! There is therefore no purpose for religion in this world, other than to be good to each other.
IMAM KHOMEINI (R.A) PRESENTED AN ISLAMIC MODEL OF AUTHENTIC REFORM
Imam Khomeini (r.a) held an alternate approach, and successfully presented to the world a very Quranic purpose and mission of Prophethood, which the verses we explained earlier refers to very clearly. The divine Prophets (a.s) came to remove the shackles of slavery, and the burdens of injustice, shunning the evil forces (taghoot), so that the people may establish justice. It is important to draw attention to all these points!
The approach of the Islamic Revolution in Iran was undoubtedly rational, right from the onset. There are so many different reactionary movements which pop up under the banner of “revival of Islam”. There are quite a few we can name in this regard, before the Islamic Revolution and afterwards, especially in the Middle East.
The biggest downfall for all of them was the lack of rationality. They did not offer what we call “bayyinaat”. They wanted to shun evil forces, but in the most extremist, irrational, anti-Quranic, non-Islamic, immoral approach. We have seen this even in our contemporary time.
The approach of the Islamic Revolution was diametrically opposite to this! While the reactionary movements adopted the approach of dictatorship and imposing their will on the people, Imam Khomeini (r.a) adopted the approach of being people focused from the start of the revolution and throughout!
IMAM KHOMEINI (R.A) HAD A REAL DEMOCRATIC VISION
With the referendum after the success of the Islamic Revolution, we see that the approach of Imam Khomeini (r.a) was that not even Islam can be imposed on the people! The Islamic Revolution was successful because it was people focused, and Imam Khomeini (r.a) declared Iran to be an Islamic Republic. Note that he did not promote the notion of the Islamic State! This is critical to be cognisant of – Imam Khomeini (r.a) did not believe in the ISIS model!
Imam Khomeini (r.a) believed in the model of being an Islamic Republic. He believed in Islam as the primary nature of governance, as much as he believed in the role and participation of the people in the governance of the country ie. Republic.
Many people, including leading religious scholars, were naturally perplexed by the request of Imam Khomeini (r.a) for a referendum. They questioned him why he would even bother asking in the referendum whether people want an Islamic model of governance or not. They felt that it is surely a rhetorical question.
Imam Khomeini (r.a) insisted that this should be the basis for the referendum, because he will not impose even Islam on the people. He believed that the people should have the choice, as there is no compulsion in religion, as explained in the beginning of verse 256 of Surah Baqara (chapter 2 of the Holy Quran):
لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ ۖ قَدْ تَبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ ۚ
“There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error.”
Imam Khomeini (r.a) believed that the people should choose the path of governance, which will take them to success in this world and the hereafter. He gave them this choice, and people went to the polling booths to have their say. Around 97% voted in favour of Islamic governance.
THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION IN IRAN HAS SUCCEEDED IN THE FACE OF UNRELENTING PRESSURE
There is no doubt, that with all the propaganda machinery employed in full force by the enemies of Islam and the Islamic Revolution, the reality is that the absolute majority of that nation is still standing with their first vote of Islamic governance, despite all the hardships, sufferings and challenges.
The global media focuses on the 3000 students (at most) who protested at one of the universities in Tehran and burnt posters of Shaheed Qaasim Soleimani and shouted slogans of criticism of the system. However, they simply turn a blind eye to the millions of people who gathered in different cities in the Islamic Republic of Iran and elsewhere, for the Janaza of their heroes like Shaheed Qaasim Soleimani.
They do not see the participation of the people in elections, which occurs repeatedly in Iran at different levels. They try to promote the notion that it is all a drama, and that these elections are not real. If this is really the case, then one questions why these elections would be so competitive, with 50 – 60% participation being the consistent trend in these elections repeatedly over the 40-year life of the Islamic Revolution. Surely people are not fools!
We will see this once again in a couple of weeks’ time, when the people will again go in their millions to the polling booths to vote for their representatives in the parliamentary elections.
Imam Khomeini (r.a) and his model of Islamic governance through the Islamic Revolution brought religion to life. This is why their Islam is a challenge! For the enemies of Islam, the model presented by Al-Qaeda and ISIS is in no way a challenge, as it is their own creation.
We see this quite clearly before us in who they are supporting right now in Idlib, Syria! This is no conspiracy theory that they are openly supporting the same terrorist groups responsible for the killing of innocent people. They did it in the past and they continue to do it right now. Their pattern is no different in Libya and Somalia. This is clear-cut reality on the ground! It is not a figment of our imagination!
I am not saying that the current system in Iran is flawless and without weaknesses. Indeed, there are plenty of challenges, but this Islamic Revolution which Imam Khomeini (r.a) established is clearly moving in the right direction. Can we show any revolution in the whole history of mankind, including the likes of the French revolution and others like it, which remain steadfast to their core values and principles after 40 years without compromising?
REACTION TO CORONAVIRUS AGAIN PROVES THE DEARTH OF HUMAN DIGNITY
The terrible Coronavirus has spread across the world from China. Let me take a moment to connect this to our discussion. As we all know, the French revolution brought human rights to the fore. Its core principles were about the dignity of human beings. Now, we have seen a big number of reports in the media about how terrible the Asian people have been treated in France because of their indigenous connection with this Coronavirus.
Where is human rights? Where is the dignity of humanity? Where is that compassion and love that is professed?
On this point, I would like to emphasize that the irresponsible posts flying around on social media that this is the punishment of Allah (SWT) on China because of how they are treating Muslims is completely baseless crap. This has no Islamic or Quranic foundation, because if it was the punishment of Allah (SWT), then why is it not falling on the White House and on Trump, or MBS in Saudi, or other devils of which there are no shortage in this world?!
These are the worst of the dictators and murderers having committed genocides! I am not saying that the Chinese are angelic in any form. Indeed, we strongly condemn their abhorrent treatment of the Muslim population of China but there is no way to link this to be the cause of the Coronavirus in China. If I can tie this back to the theme of this khutbah, this is not the approach of Imam Khomeini (r.a) and the Islamic Revolution! They don’t work on fairy-tales!!!
We therefore condemn this irrational and irresponsible approach on social media. There are numerous verses of the Holy Quran and Hadith from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his purified Ahlul Bait (a.s) which gives clear guidance on how we should interact with people with infectious diseases.
We are supposed to deal with this issue with the utmost compassion, dignity, and human values. In no way does it say that we should treat them as people who have been dealt a punishment by Allah (SWT) and use it as a ploy to cultivate racism and xenophobic attitudes. This is completely un-Islamic and totally unacceptable.
THE ABHORRENT SYSTEM OF IMPERIALISM PRODUCES EVIL TERRORS LIKE TRUMP
يُرِيدُونَ لِيُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَاللَّهُ مُتِمُّ نُورِهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ
“They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths but Allah will perfect His light, though the unbelievers may be averse.”
In conclusion, this flame of the Islamic Revolution continues to burn bright, despite all the efforts to extinguish it. Those who have exhausted all their efforts with sinister agendas have simply exposed themselves.
The moronic character by the name of Trump is a classic example of the disturbed system of imperialism, which is hell-bent on world domination, being exposed for all to see. This system creates these flagbearers of hate, discrimination and contempt for other human beings. They do not believe in the dignity of humanity. This is clear for all to see!
I will end with the last part of verse 25 of Surah Hadid (chapter 57 of the Holy Quran), which I started this khutbah with:
وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَنْصُرُهُ وَرُسُلَهُ بِالْغَيْبِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ
“That Allah may test who it is that will help, Unseen, Him and His messengers: For Allah is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might (and able to enforce His Will).”
Who follows the path of truth and who falls apart in confusion and the darkness of ignorance and propaganda from the enemies, falling into the trap of viewing the Islamic Revolution through the jaundiced and prejudiced eyes of sectarianism…